Winnipeg Knightly Arts

Historical European Martial Arts School

Winnipeg HEMA swordsmanship school focused on the Lichtenauer school of combat.

We study Historical European Martial Arts and currently focus on German Longsword. In the future we plan to expand into Langes Messer, Dagger, Wrestling, and Pollaxe.

What do you train for?

There are two main approaches to training, solution oriented and goal oriented. Solution oriented training starts with the answer, it can be a process, a technology, a tool, etc. that someone else has developed and then trains people to use that solution until they can reproduce it accurately and uniformly regardless of overall understanding.

Solution oriented training has it's place, especially when it's a high stress environment and you need to know what people are going to do. It is however inflexible, and not always the best approach, especially when complex decision making is required.

Goal based training starts at the other end and begins with a scenario, some resources (usually less than what is ideal), and some objectives for the student to accomplish. There is no specifically correct way to resolve the situation, as long as the goals are met. At this point the instructor must point out the weaknesses of the solution, and reject it in the larger context, add more criteria to the problem, possibly add or take away resources and get the student to do it again under increasing stress loads. This part is important, the answer the student came up with isn't wrong, but the goal is to get them to learn how to solve a problem multiple ways and learn to read the context of the problem and find the relevant restrictions themselves.

This method is useful for when decision making in complex situations is required. It develops mastery rather than immediate efficiency, however with enough practice a certain kind of convergence arises, which is more commonly called mastery. The down side is that this can take a lot longer and won't necessarily produce uniform results. The other important aspect is to ensure that there is enough practice that the student can perform in extremely intense situations (training scenarios should be much more challenging than expected environments).

The best way to speed up goal oriented training is to break the more complex problems into smaller ones and focus on training for those first until the student is no longer challenged by them, and from there add them to the larger body of training so it can stay sharp. Then you begin working on another series of problems and add those to the main group after the student gains some level of aptitude there.

I have a theory that most founders of martial arts begin learning in a goal oriented setting, and then students come to them and they teach in a solution oriented manner. They teach what has worked for them, a series of techniques, rather than teaching the student what problems to expect and allowing them the opportunity to create their own solution and master it. Then generations go by, and eventually the original spirit of the art is lost and the later students simply pantomime the actions without regard for what's happening. The contexts of the fight itself may even change, some tools are no longer allowed, laws change etc. and the past techniques become irrelevant in new contexts. This definitely happens with military, if you replace 'technique' with 'tactics' you can see how the cavalry charge became obsolete once the machine gun was developed, and yet rather than adapting, commanders simply kept ordering charges.

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